Mixing and mastering are all about emotion. The goal is to capture the essence of a song with digital and analog tools which resonate with the message behind the music. The million dollar questions is… “How would a mastering engineering professional retain dynamics in home mastering engineering project?” In this multiple part blog and video blog series, we are going to study what veteran mastering engineering professionals are doing now, and have done in the past across all genres of music.
In 2017 the lines from the past have blurred. There no longer exists separation in the multiple realms of the music production, creation, and finalization processes known as mastering. Once upon a time, just a decades ago, recording artists would have to save up a pretty penny just to get time in a studio. The recording studio process started with pre-production which eventually manifested into a tangible product know as a master.
Fast forward the clock just about ten years, and now anyone with 2000 dollars can walk into Guitar Center and buy a kick ass laptop, DAW of choice, and two channel interface to start creating at home. We have evolved so much for a technological standpoint, but we have drifted from the organic and exciting nature of working in studios around people who have spent a lifetime studying the craft. In 2017 what was once known to the record labels as “a master recording” is now just a LOUD rendering of a song uploaded to an online previewing format like SoundCloud.
The evolution of technology is both a blessing and a curse. It is amazing that all artists, aspiring producers and aspiring audio engineers now have the ability to be creative and capture such creations in the digital world. But, is also detrimental because most people are told to focus their attention on “what to buy” rather than “what to study.” Yes, going to a recording studio was and still is expensive, but this sacred environment offers something (besides racks of analog hardware and boatloads of digital mixing and mastering plugins). Recording, mixing and mastering studios are housed with season professionals who can offer real-world experience. Experience developed from years of education, apprenticeship, trial and error, successes and failures.
Don’t worry this article is not about paying to go to a professional studio. This article is about understanding the current home studio evolution. You see, when an artist or producer is locked in a bedroom alone with a bunch of software results may vary regarding a “professional sounding product” or as the record labels used to call it “a master recording.” YouTube and other free mediums have made our learning adventures more accessible, and for this, we are all thankful! Nevertheless, we still lack direct access to the professionals who have objective perspectives based on direct experience.
The old saying goes ” knowledge is power, ” but it is?
And if knowledge is power then what defines knowledge in 2017?
Most people define knowledge as “something a friend mentioned yesterday,” or what was “displayed on the evening news,” or what a blog writer/video creator “uploaded this week.” Many online sources do offer credible information, but real work is warranted to find such information. Sadly, in the current climate for music producers and audio engineers a fair amount of the content online is misleading, lacking, and very biased. This is where the information age is to our detriment. The idea of “knowledge” is finding itself to be less about “empowering a student to thrive” and more about “building bad habits from biased sources.” Subjective perceptions are plentiful, and few online resources offer “objective perspectives” based on truth and real world experience.
With great power comes great responsibility. Our core responsibility should be to learn and educate ourselves through dedication and humility.
We, at Continuum, pride ourselves on being objective and dedicated to education. Today we would like to share with you a website (which you already probably read often) just in case you have not been to it in a while. But first how about some backend information of “why” we are sharing this today.
Ian Sheperd is one of our favorite mastering engineers and online educators. Ian has contributed a TON of amazing content through his website, video tutorials, seminars, online mastering courses, and digital metering plugins. Ian often talks about ways to obtain and retain dynamics in home mastering engineering. Ian’s resources showcase real-world examples of trending songs with and without dynamic range. Ian’s blog and videos offer gems of information that we as educators reread and rewatch a few times each year.
Ian’s site alone can easily get you up to with home mastering. Learning the “how and why” to retain dynamics in your home mastering engineering practice is vital to understand. In fact, Ian works with a gentleman named Ian Kerr who runs a little company (which we know you have heard of) called Meter Plugs. Together these two dynamic professionals make a line of plugins which are truly revolutionary for both aspiring and professional mastering engineers.
Now let’s pause before we get too far ahead of ourselves. We know that we started this article we said that aspiring audio engineers are being “sold” in the mass media to “buy things” rather than to “learn things.”This is 100 percent true. Sadly, it is nearly impossible to get quality tools for free. So, we all need to research products and the people behind the products to understand what is best for our needs. After speaking with Ian Kerr via email and phone over the last few weeks, it is clear he and Ian Shepherd have a passion for helping artists. These two men care about what they do. The Meter Plugs products reflect a high level of passion and dedication. The enthusiasm both Ian Kerr and Ian Shepherd have for innovation makes Meter Plugs a special company.
Consider this part one of many in an extensive blog and video series on how to retain dynamics in home mastering engineering projects. For now, we would like to invite you to enter our giveaway to win a free copy of the innovate real-time dynamics meter from Meter Plugs called Dynameter! Check out the link below to learn more about measuring dynamics metering in real-time. The giveaway page features videos from Ian Kerr and Ian Shepherd illustrating “better” approaches to home mastering. Rather than using loudness as the only standard, check out these resources. Learning more about PSR metering and other dynamics retention principles will serve you well!
Oh ya, and one more thing, do remember to check out Ian’s blog. Please watch the videos on our site, and it should go without saying…
Research loudness and dynamics as much as you can! We all love getting new plugins in our collection. But, rarely invest the multitude of hours needed to fully understand the “how” and “why” we are choosing to use certain plugins. Knowledge may not be power, but experience and wisdom most certainly are!
Loudness for its own sake is a bad idea. Dynamics are much more useful. – Ian Kerr